Sonic Solutions at the Playground
After working with multiple solutions for mastering CD’s at the Playground, we settled on soundBlade by Sonic Studio; the spinoff company from the world-standard Sonic Solutions. We tested BIAS Peak, SoundForge, and many other solutions, but when it came down to trusting the software to make a CD that would be completely compatible with replication houses, there was really only one choice.
We typically assemble mastering projects in our Pro Tools HD3 Accel system, partly because of the vast number of world-standard plug-ins such as SONNOX, Waves, Epure, Massey, and several other favorites, and partly because it is a truly elegant medium for maximizing the sonic potential in any project that comes our way. And this is true whether it stays in the digital realm or gets sent out to any of our analog options such as the ATR-102, our Manley Massive Passive (Mastering Edition), or anything else in our arsenal of gear designed specifically for mastering music.
Then, once tracks are ordered and processed, we immediately exit the Pro Tools HD environment, and typically move to WEISS’ Saracon for any dithering and conversions (I don’t recall a situation that I felt Waves Dithering curves were superior to WEISS’ POW-r dithering curves).
Lastly, perhaps the most critical aspect of the entire mastering process is the final “premastering assembly” of the actual CD that gets sent to replication houses. I can’t stress enough that dropping files into “Toast” does NOT make a CD suitable for replication houses (I can’t count the number of recording studios that claim to be mastering houses, when they use Pro Tools, Waves, and Toast as their method of mastering CD’s); there’s much more that needs to be included with the files than simply a CD that can be played in your car stereo when you walk out of a mastering session.
SoundBlade creates the proper PQ codes as well as the DDP file sets that most professional replication houses require. Many bargain companies are not ready to handle DDP deliveries so suggest you find a reputable facility that does accept DDP file sets of your valuable masters. If not, we will make a suitable Production Master of your mastered CD for you as well.